The Disability Law & Policy e-Newsletter
An electronic publication of
The Law, Health Policy & Disability Center at the University of Iowa College of Law
The Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University
June 1, 2020
Volume 17, Issue 5
The Disability Law & Policy Newsletter is a monthly publication that aims to inform disability advocates, scholars, and service providers of the most current issues in disability law, policy, research, best practices, and breaking news.
Below is a topical overview of the items presented in this issue.
A. CIVIL RIGHTS: ADA, Section 504, CRPD Ratification
B. WORKFORCE: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Vocational Rehabilitation
C. EDUCATION: Special Education, Youth Transition, Postsecondary Education, & Outcomes
D. HEALTHCARE: Access, Services, Benefits, and the Affordable Care Act
E. TECHNOLOGY: Assistive, Information, and Communication Technologies
F. INDEPENDENCE: Community Integration
G. INTERNATIONAL: Topics Outside the United States
H. POP CULTURE: News and Topics Vary
I. EVENTS AND FUNDING: Conferences, Calls for Proposals, Papers, and Presentations
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A. CIVIL RIGHTS
1. EEOC Agrees to End a Disability Discrimination Lawsuit with FedEx Ground
Earlier this month, FedEx Ground and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) agreed to end a disability discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit came after many deaf and hard-of-hearing employees filed complaints with EEOC offices all over the country. As part of the agreement, called a consent decree, FedEx Ground has to provide many accommodations for its deaf and hard-of-hearing workers.
Full Story: FedEx Ground to Pay $3.3 Million to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit, EEOC, May 19, 2020, available at
2. A Judge Ordered the Governor of New York to Have an American Sign Language Interpreter at His Press Briefings
The governor of New York, like many other governors and mayors, has been holding regular press briefings to inform the public of the changes in his state caused by the coronavirus. He has not had an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter at these press briefings. This eventually led to a lawsuit. Earlier in May, a judge ordered the governor to have an ASL interpreter present at his press briefings.
Full Story: Tom Precious, Judge Orders Cuomo to Make Covid-19 Briefings More Accessible to Deaf New Yorkers, Buffalo News, May 11, 2020, available at
1. New Guidance on Vocational Rehabilitation Services
There is new guidance on how Vocational Rehabilitation services should be offered during the pandemic. These services include pre-employment transition services and career counseling services. These can be done through telephone, online, or other ways to provide services. The goal is to continue to offer these services remotely.
Full Story: Shaun Heasley, Feds Offer Guidance on Voc Rehab Services Amid Coronavirus, Disability Scoop, May 15, 2020, available at
2. Organizations Are Picked to Participate in a Program to Create More Employment for People with Disabilities
The U.S. Department of Labor picked five organizations to participate in a program meant to create more employment for people with disabilities throughout the country. These organizations will receive technical help, peer mentoring, and policy consulting to strengthen their ability to help workers with disabilities prepare for a job.
Full Story: U.S. Department of Labor Selects Five Organizations to Increase Employment for People with Disabilities, U.S. Department of Labor, Apr. 29, 2020, available at
1. Changes in Disability Services in Higher Education
Disability services had to change because of the pandemic. Federal data indicate that one-fifth of undergraduates have a disability. Various administrators of disability services in universities and colleges talked about what the services could look like moving forward, which were more important as education moved online. One person interviewed believes that smaller, private colleges might find the changes to be easier than larger universities.
Full Story: Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, What's Next: Changes in Disability Services Could Add More Flexibility, EducationDive, May 6, 2020, available at
2. Gaps in Remote Learning
A ParentsTogether survey of remote learning during the coronavirus pandemic revealed that only 40 percent of the poorest students are accessing remote learning. There are gaps in remote learning for children with disabilities and children from low-income households. Some reasons for this could be that some states that shut down their schools did not open any remote classrooms or some students do not have, or had to share, a device to access remote education. Some students with disabilities are not receiving all or some of their supports. This survey is not scientific, but it is helpful because of how diverse it was.
Full Story: Anya Kamenetz, Survey Shows Big Remote Learning Gaps for Low-Income and Special Needs Children, NPR, May 27, 2020, available at
1. Nursing Homes Are Lobbying at the Federal and State Levels Not to Be Legally Responsible for COVID-19 Related Deaths
Since the coronavirus started in the U.S., nursing homes have been the front lines of the disease, and where a lot of deaths have happened. Nursing homes and other longterm care facilities are seeking not to be legally responsible for coronavirus-related deaths at the federal and state level. The government's haphazard response to the coronavirus has worsened the problems that these facilities were already facing. These facilities argue that they need this legal protection to do their job well. However, advocates argue that this legal protection is questionable as these types of facilities have had years of standards violations.
Full Story: Abigail Abrams, "A License for Neglect." Nursing Homes Are Seeking--and Winning--Immunity Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic, Time, May 14, 2020, available at
2. An Argument for Increasing Coverage Through the Health Insurance Marketplace
The coronavirus has resulted in job loses or income changes, which has had an effect on health care. Congress should pass a law--or laws--that would increase access to health insurance through the marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act. This is especially important during a pandemic and severe recession. Congress could make the marketplace plans more accessible and affordable. States that run their own marketplaces did this, and it allowed more people access coverage.
Full Story: Tara Straw, Sarah Lueck, and Aviva Aron-Dine, Congress Should Bolster ACA Marketplace Coverage Amid COVID-19, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, May 18, 2020, available at
1. A New Feature to Make Travel More Comfortable
Google Maps has added a feature that allows the user to see how accessible a place is. It shows if the entrances, restrooms, and parking lots are accessible. This feature is available in the latest version of Google Maps.
Full Story: Rob LeFebvre, Google Maps Adds Accessible Places for Wheelchair Users, Lifewire, May 22, 2020, available at
2. Apple Offers More Accessibility Support
Apple, the company behind the iPhone, is offering more accessibility support. They say that this is because education and social activities have moved online. They are also highlighting apps, shows, and movies aimed at people with disabilities.
Full Story: Shaun Heasley, Apple Boosts Assistance for Those with Disabilities, DisabilityScoop, May 7, 2020, available at
1. How Important Working from Home Has Been for People with Disabilities
Working from home has been important for people with disabilities before the pandemic. People with disabilities who could not go into an office because of their disability could ask to work at home as an accommodation. Employers should consider how to handle working from home once the pandemic is under control, especially for employees with disabilities.
Full Story: Maggie Gram, For Many Caregivers and People with Disabilities, WFH Was Never Just a Perk, New York Times, May 27, 2020, available at
2. Two Law Professors Encourage Policies to Limit Staying in Nursing Homes
Why are there so many nursing homes even though community-based services are preferred? These residents with disabilities have faced structural barriers and ageism. Structural barriers and ageism challenges to getting services in the home push people to be relocated to a nursing home. Policies should be put into place that make it easier for elderly people and people with disabilities that need longterm care to stay in the community.
Full Story: Rebekah Diller and Leslie Salzman, Coronavirus or No, Why Do We Have So Many People in Nursing Homes? New York Daily News, May 21, 2020, available at
1. Summary of the Response to an Open Letter Written by the International Disability Alliance
Earlier this year, the International Disability Alliance (IDA), a group of 14 international disability rights-focused organizations, wrote an open letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) asking the organization to take certain steps to help improve nations' response to COVID-19. Specifically, they asked WHO to urge governments to provide medical care that does not discriminate because of a disability in response to COVID-19.
Full Story: IDA's Letter to World Health Organisation in Response to the #COVID19 Pandemic, International Disability Alliance, Apr. 2, 2020, available at
2. Students with Disabilities in England Face Difficulties Because of the Changes Caused by the Coronavirus
There are many difficulties students with disabilities in England since the start of the coronavirus as the universities there shifted classes online. A Ph.D. student wants to fix this by asking for automatic extensions for students that are registered as disabled, neurodivergent, or chronically ill. They also ask for grants to cover the costs of equipment and technology students with disabilities need to work remotely.
Full Story: Alfie Packham, Rachel Hall, and David Batty, "We're Being Fobbed Off": Why Disabled Students Are Losing Out in Lockdown, The Guardian, May 21, 2020, available at
H. POP CULTURE
1. A Study of Articles Finds that Autism Is Presented More Positively Now Than Before
A recent study, published in Disability and Society, looked at articles published by the Washington Post between 2007 and 2017. The study found that autism's representation in the media has slowly become more positive. The study's authors think this is because of the growing influence of the self-advocacy movement. This movement advances the idea that people with autism should speak for themselves about their experiences, needs, and wants.
Full Story: Jennifer McNulty, Washington Post's Depictions of Autism Shift from "Cause and Cure" to Acceptance, Study Finds, UC Santa Cruz, May 14, 2020, available at
2. An Online Exhibit Put Together by the Smithsonian Tells the History of What it Has Been Like to Have a Disability in the United States
EveryBody, an online exhibit put together by the Smithsonian, is meant to tell the history of what it has been like to have a disability in the United States. It looks at objects that people with disabilities have used, including a sewing machine, utensils with chunky handles, and past objects used to raise money for people with disabilities. Twenty-five percent of American adults have a disability, and this exhibit shows how they have been a part of American history.
Full Story: Erin Blakemore, Commonplace Photos, Tools, Documents, Other Objects Tell the Story of Disability, Washington Post, May 16, 2020, available at
I. EVENTS AND FUNDING
Call for Papers
The Disability Law & Policy e-Newsletter is supported by the following sources:
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The Disability Law & Policy e-Newsletter is the collaborative product of Editor-in-Chief David W. Klein, Ph.D., Executive Editor Angel Baker; and Lead Editor Aidee Campa Escorza.
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